Let us stroll into Episode 19 and take some time for reflection with My good friend Stefan.
Religion has always been around me, but I am not religious. I would say I am spiritual but not religious.
Church was always part of Blondy’s life. Not that her mother was overly religious, but she would find comfort in attending church at times and always had a bible in the house. Blondy’s mum would speak to Blondy about God and the bible from a young age. Blondy was about 7 when she started to question her mum’s faith. Asking things such as “How did she know there was a God” and things like that. When she was about 9 she asked her mum
“Why does God let bad things happen to children?”
I’m not here for a religious debate. I am just letting you know that when Blondy asked the question she had already decided that she did not believe in God. However, As I have said before, There were many times after that when Blondy found herself begging “God” for help in her mind when she found herself in certain situations. Blondy would say he never answered her prayers. Others would and have argued he did.
Blondy had a friend growing up. We will call him Mike. Mike came from a very religious family. He attended church every Sunday with his mum. Blondy would often see them leave and liked that his mum wore different bright coloured dresses each week to church. Mike was a nice kid. He never hurt Blondy and the two of them would often, in the early days, go off together and play Nintendo for hours. Blondy liked Mike.
As they got older, they both become more and more exposed to the environment around them in different ways. They drifted apert but were still close. When they saw each other, it was always smiles and hugs. One evening, Blondy and Mike found themselves in the same company. There was going to be a fight of some kind and they both arrived but with different groups. Not opposing groups, just different sets of friends.
Blondy didn’t even know what the fight was about, she was just there for the hype. Things got out of control and the fight spilled out within the crowd watching. It got heated and people were getting hurt. Blondy was not fighting. But she was contributing to the tension on the fight. Suddenly two Peds screeched up and someone shouted Run. What happened next was a blur. Someone said a gun was fired. Blondy never heard that. She only heard run. Still laughing she stated sprinting away from the incident and mike kind of jogged next to her, also laughing and joking. They had broken away from the main crowd accidently and suddenly Mike stopped dead in the road they were running down so…. Blondy stopped. It was very dark apart from a couple of streetlights and it was about 4 in the morning so well quiet. “What” said Blondy as she had no idea why they had stopped. “Shhhh” said Mike angrily waving his arms. He seemed to be listening to something. Then Blondy heard it too…. screaming. A boy screaming. They looked at each other eyes wide not saying a thing. Then the screaming just stopped. They waited….to see if it started again, not a word spoken. Suddenly Mike and Blondy heard something …. the sound of mopeds approaching…and then they saw them coming down the end of the road. About 4 mopeds speeding towards them and without a word both Blondy and Mike started to sprint as fast as they could. Blondy didn’t know who she was running from or if she even needed to run but It was not worth the risk. They came to the end of the road and both took different directions. Blondy to the left and Mike to the right. Blondy did not even look back but heard him call her name, she just kept running, pure fear running through her. She ran all the way home even though she stopped hearing the Peds.
She sat up all night. Angry that she had left Mike. She waited until about 9am and went and knocked on his door. His mum answered and said that Mike was still sleeping. Blondy said OK and went home. His mum must not have known that he went out last night. Must have thought he was still in bed when in fact he might not have even gone home last night. Blondy sat in her bed and at 10am decided that she would go and tell Mikes mum the truth. That her Son might have been hurt last night.
Blondy was slightly shaking as she knocked the door again. No answer. She banged louder. She heard the window above her slide open and she stepped back and looked up, just in time to see Mike close the window again. She banged the door again, hard. The door opened slightly. Mike had opened the door but only at a jar. He said nothing. Blondy stepped closer to the door.. “Mike…. are you OK?”. Mike kissed his teeth and opened the door and walked away. Mum must have left for work…. Blondy followed him. He walked a little way into the living room and turned. It made Blondy take a step back. He had been battered. His right eye was the size of a tennis ball and his bottom lip badly swollen. He was holding his ribs. “I….” Blondy stuttered “I’m sorry I left you”. Mike find of furrowed his forehead, as if confused “You didn’t leave me, we ran in opposite directions”. He eased himself down onto the sofa. “I can’t do this anymore” Mike said out loud. Not even directly at Blondy…Just out loud. “I don’t want this shit anymore”. Blondy just stood there. Not sure what she should say. She left a few minutes later. Mike said he wanted to be left alone. She didn’t see him again for a long time. Things got a lot worse in the area. One summers afternoon she was outside her block sitting on the wall, hung over and feeling awful. She was just holding a cup of water staring at her feet, talking herself out of being sick. Suddenly she felt a friendly push, and someone was sitting down next to her. She looked up and it was Mike, big old smile on his face. “What’s good” Blondy said. Mike laughed and said, “Not you” and smiled again. Blondy gave a weak smile. “Where you been” she asked. “Around” said Mike. “You wanna party tonight” Blondy asked. Mike shook his head “Can’t, got youth club”. Blondy laughed now “Wow…youth club…don’t wanna miss that” she said sarcastically taking a sip of her drink. “Well, ya know, at least no one gets beaten up and shit there…no one trying to pour vodka down your throat…so ….” Mike replied. They both just sat there for a moment, sun blazing on them. “Come…come to the youth club” Mike said quietly. “Its part of my church, Its safe Fam”. Blondy sipped her water. “Come, you don’t have to do any praying or anything. You can just speak to people.” Mike said, getting to his feet. Blondy looked up at him, shielding the sun with her eyes. “Why you going there, with the God people Mike, it’s just weird”. Mike shook his head “Na, I need to be around good people so I can do good things Blonde. I need people around me that remind me to do good stuff, not to fight and jook people”. Blondy put her head down, looking at her water. “Blond, come…. speak to them. Tell them what is going on” Mike said softly. Blondy said nothing. “Ok…Later” he said and walked away. Blondy sat a while on the wall. Thought about what Mike had just said. She decided that maybe he was right. I mean…it had worked for him. So maybe it was time to speak to someone. Yep. She was gonna go and get changed, wash off this hang over and go to this bait youth club with Mike. Yup.
But she never did. Within an hour someone came round, sat and smoked weed in her room whilst she was getting changed and then they went to get food and then ended up seeing others and within a few hours the youth group was a long lost memory, replaced by the usual …drugs, alcohol and inappropriate people.
I didn’t see Mike for a very long time after that. Then one day, as an adult, I saw him on Facebook. His profile picture was him and some other men, all smiling on a sandy beach. So, I pressed “add”. He accepted and I sent a message saying Hi. We got talking. Mike, after we had parted ways, had gone to uni and become some kind of Banker. Had worked hard and got himself so high-flying job in the city. He owns his own house and joked that he spends so much time abroad with work and holidays he did not need a base. He sounded happy and well. I mentioned the past and he said that he tries not to dwell on those days. I asked him how he turned it all around. He said that, to be honest, it was the church. The church gave him the strength he didn’t know that he needed. I didn’t know what to say to that. We have never spoken since. We live worlds apart, despite coming from the same place. I’m happy for him. He was one of the good guys. He deserves to have a good life. And if he found strength from the church to do that, then good for him.
Its just not what I believe or need.
However, I know that many young people would benefit from the love and support that can come from religion and faith. Like I said, I have a friend, Stefan. Stefan is a vicar but more importantly than that he is my friend. Too me, the vicar part is just his job. Stefan is someone I respect. He speaks the truth and has always been an ear for me to use. He speaks to me about his beliefs and lets me know the church is there if I need it but also respects that I don’t want to be part of that. Stefan wrote me a blog that you can read HERE, and I think it’s a good way of understanding why I have a lot of respect for him.
Stefan is one of Blondy’s people because I respect the work that he does and what he offers to those who choose to engage…..Hope. Sometimes all someone needs is hope. If I ever worked with a child and it was indicated to me they were curious about the church then it would always be Stefan who I would contact.
Stefan is also one of Blondy’s people because as a child Blondy was let down by the church. Pushed away. Just another failing and then by the time Mike asked her to try again, she had already lost faith. I feel like Stefan, if he had known Blondy, would have listed to her anyway, even if she didn’t want to engage with the religious aspect and he may have even gave her hope…because , at times, Blondy had very little hope….
You can follow Stefan on Twitter HERE